Parks and Recreation – Pawnee: First In Laughter, Fourth In Obesity.

This a review of the first six episodes of Parks & Recreation’s third season, written right after the premiere of “Indianapolis”.  It covers all the episodes leading up to  “Harvest Festival”.

When Parks and Recreation first aired in 2009 it was little more than a clone of The Office.  It used the same mockumentary filming style and contained many of the same characteristics to the series.  But just as in season two of The Office when the American version broke away from the British counterpart its based on, so did Parks And Recreation in season two brake away from The Office.  In what seems like no time the show went from the weak link in NBC’s comedy lineup to easily the highlight.  Season three, which began late in January, has continued this trend with being one of the most reliably funny show of the night.  While Community overshadows it in ambition, The Office in ratings, or 30 Rock in awards, it remains the most consistently comical series on NBC (I’m not even going to mention Perfect Couples or, worse, Outsourced).  No matter what episode, the series remains hysterical and fully entertaining.

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It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad Decade: Cultural & Social Revolutions of The 1960s Through The Lens of Mad Men

NOTE: This is an essay I wrote for my World Since 1914 course, which had me write a paper on anything dealing with well the world since 1914. Naturally I picked Mad Men as my topic and decided to discuss how the series reflects the changing times of the 1960s.

Cigarettes, sex, and advertising.  Typically these are not the thoughts that come to mind when the 1960s are brought up, yet in recent years they’ve become defining terms.  This way of thinking is largely due to the phenomena that AMC’s flagship series Mad Men has become.  Premiering in 2007, the series focuses on the lives of middle to upper class advertising agents throughout the ‘60s.  On the surface the show’s time period exists to give the series a glamorous set design; an excuse to have the men in tailored suits and women in elegant dresses.  Yet the show’s time period does so much more then just add stunning visuals, rather it defines the entire series.  Mad Men plays out as an intellectual study of people’s lives in the 1960s as they attempt to survive and adapt to America’s radical social and cultural revolutions. Continue reading

Tales From South Park (Part 2)

The second half of my South Park responses from my Research Writing course looking at how  comedy is used to discuss political and social issues.

“ManBearPig”

On the surface level the episode titled “ManBearPig” is one of the more ridiculous ideas for the series, and yet at the same time its quite genius.  Often I’m in awe at how exactly Trey Parker and Matt Stone come up with all this.  Airing about a month before Al Gore’s novel and documentary An Inconvenient Truth were to come out South Park decided it was time for them to give their take on the subject of global warming just as the idea would reach a peak within the public and media.  But rather than being overly preachy as the show can sometimes get, “ManBearPig” is relatively un-preachy with the message simply being Al Gore is over blowing things for attention rather than necessarily global warming doesn’t exist.  The episode consists of former Vice President coming to the small Colorado town of South Park and trying to get the kids to believe in his delusional tale of a “half man, half bear, half pig” creature.

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Tales From South Park (Part 1)

In my Research Writing course we’ve been focusing on comedies and how they use satire to discuss political and social topics.  Typically our homework involves watching an episode of a comedy series and responding to it.  The first half of the semester is based around South Park so here’s the first batch of my responses, which I’ll classify loosely as reviews.

“Death”

South Park is a series that from the very start was given a bad rap.  The initial response to the show from critics and the media was that it consisted of nothing more than fart jokes and crude, ugly animation.  With the speed and ease of producing an episode of South Park, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote the episode “Death” in direct response to this criticism, thus making use of one of my favorite types of jokes: meta humor.  By creating the show within a show Terrence and Phillip they are able to have the characters speak directly to the early critiques and defend themselves against it.  The parents of South Park become enraged by the introduction of Terrence and Phillip, which actually consists of nothing but potty humor in addition to using even cruder animation as the top of the characters’ heads aren’t even connected to the bottom (a joke which would later be applied to all Canadians in the South Park universe).  In this Terrence and Phillip become a representation of the type of show many-viewed South Park to be at first glance.

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